The Joy of Desperation

I have been reading the blogs of a variety of artists, both visual and performance, recognizing a recurrent theme: desperation. All this wonderful art. All these talented artists. Desperate for attention, support, love, rent, supplies, feedback, collaboration. People for whom it is too late to turn back. Thousands of dollars, dozens of years, invested with little return. Although warned by the sordid biographies of writers, painters, actors and singers who died and were buried in unmarked graves, we didn’t suspect that Lady Luck would ignore us as well. There is romance in the most desperate biographies of artists. Aldous Huxley’s, ‘Down and Out in Paris and London’, for one. Henry Miller’s days in Brooklyn, — or going back a bit, if you really want a wake-up dose of smelling salts, Edgar Allan Poe. I’d start a list, but it would never end. I think that most despair germinates in ambivalence. Cheever, Camus, Steinbeck, etc. asked themselves, over and over, “what the hell am I doing? I am a lousy fake. I don’t have a chance in hell. Why do I continue?” Beckett said it best. “I can’t go on. I must go on. I can’t go on……. I’ll go on.” or something like that. I think that’s as close as we get to an answer. That is what makes artists so extraordinary, including the thousands we will never know existed. Is the answer somehow connected to the joy of desperation? The seduction of impossibility? The comfort of being on the bottom with nowhere to go but up, or sideways? Is this a mental illness? I invite comments. img_6707.JPG

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